Programme: Bachelor of Libarary & Information Science (BLISc)
Job profile: Librarian, Knowledge Manager, Information Expert
Best colleges: NISCAIR, New Delhi, Jamia, New Delhi, ISI Bangalore, MK Univeristy, Madurai, Annamalai University, Chidambaram
Recruiters: Govt. Libraries, Universities, Colleges, Coroporate Training Centres, Research Institutions, Media Organisations, Consulting Firms
Starting salary: Rs. 12,000- 20,000 depending on your skills
IN a recent conference, a team of professionals were seen mulling over how to use a tool like Twitter, with its 140 character limit, to save their jobs. These library and information science specialists have for ages been entrusted with the upkeep and movement of bulky tomes of knowledge – books. Why are librarians, as a community feeling shaken by these new-age technologies? It’s not the worry that people are reading less.
Librarians are worried that with newer ways of access to knowledge, they will have to catch up with technology to keep the users hooked to the library. The consensus on the future of the library was that it will have to be web-enabled, participatory and interactive. So it’s no more about ideal upkeep of books. It’s about making the same book, journal or paper available online, and also making the user aware about its availability – through social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter to be more precise. Welcome to the world of new-age librarians.
Role of the librarian
“The concept of library as a building with stacks of books and journals has changed. The need of the hour is to provide “anytime anywhere” access to knowledge resources,” says Dr. Antony Jose, chief librarian, MDI Gurgaon. According to Dr. Jose, who has trained in advanced web technologies, a contemporary librarian is one who works in a hybrid environment dealing with a variety of information sources ranging from print to online resources. For instance, the mountains of newspaper and magazine clippings from diverse sources at the Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA) library, popularly known as Sapru House are all digitised, now. So if you want access to yesteryear magazines like The Illustrated Weekly, this is a good destination. However, innovation also extends to using physical space more effectively. And managing both requires skills, and knowledge which is where specialised courses in the domain come into play.
"The concept of library has changed. Now theneed is to provide ‘anytime anywhere’ access to knowledge resources”
Dr Antony Jose,
Chief Librarian, MDI Gurgaon
About the course
Library and Information Science is a degree course, offered at Bachelor’s and Master’s level by universities across the country. The Bachelor’s is a one-year programme, which requires a bachelor’s degree in any stream. Dr Jose has a Bachelor of Library and Information Sciences from The MS University, Baroda. Also, offered through distance education by IGNOU and others, admission is on the basis of marks obtained in school-leaving exam in case of graduation, and on the basis of marks obtained in graduation, in case of postgraduation. Students from all streams are eligible to join the Bachelor’s course.
The programme subjects include library administration (including acquisition and verification); budgeting, personnel management; cataloguing; networking, automation; information sources; conservation of material; research methodology; and public libraries and academic libraries.
Ishtiaq Ahmad, a student of the Bachelor of Library and Information Science course for graduates offered by Jamia Millia Islamia says, students are exposed to software like Virtua, Libsys, SOUL and MARC, which help in organisation and management. He and a few other students interned at the JNU library in December. “Our training helped fill the gap between theory and practice,” he shares. Masroor Faizi, his classmate interned at the National Medical Library, which houses medical journals and e-journals. Here he was exposed to the process of how a print journal is made available online.
“The syllabus also covers understanding of staff deployment, manpower management, and about such issues as electricity supply and right selection of furniture, “shares Dr. MMA Ansari, faculty at Jamia. This gives students exposure to the daily functioning of a library. Devi Ahilya Vishwavidyalaya under DU offers a one-year Bachelor of Library and Information Science, which is open to graduates from all streams.
|Associateship in Information Science
|About: NISCAIR was set up in 2002 by merging Indian National Science Documentation (INSDOC) and the National Institute of Science Communication (NISCOM).
Programmes: The flagship programme is a 2-year, 4-semester Associateship in Information Science, equivalent to Master of Library and Information Science.
Selection & eligibility: Candidates for 25 seats are selected through a written test and interview. Aspirants should have secured 50% marks in Master’s degree, or a 4-year degree like BE or MBBS, or must have a bachelor’s and followed it up with Bachelor of Library Science degree. In the last case, one year of work experience is required.
Course structure: The first two semesters are dedicated to coursework. There are 15 hours of lectures, 15 hours of practicals, and 2 hours of tutorials and on-the-job training each. There are two scheduled seminars. The 3rd and 4th semesters are dedicated to dissertation and research work. Besides covering topics like Information Sources, Information Processing, IT, Technical Writing, Library Automation and Digital Libraries and Information Management Systems, the course also deals with topics like as Internet Concepts, Intellectual Property Rights and Business Information Systems.
At the postgraduate level, as in the case of University of Delhi, the curriculum delves deeper into Information Systems, Knowledge Organisation, Cataloguing and Classification. The syllabus includes Advanced Library Cataloguing (non-book material), Advanced Computer Application, Research and Statistical Methods, Marketing of Library and Information Services, Information Storage and Retrival and electives in Public Library, Academic Library, Research Library, Health Science Library, Agriculture Science Library and Engineering and Technology Library.
Lacunae in the programme
“The curriculum followed at Bachelor’s and Master’s level at most Indian universities is not equipped to face the challenges posed by today’s information revolution,” says Dr. Jose of MDI. According to him, most of them still emphasise theoretical aspects of librarianship instead of concentrating on applied topics.
The course structure should take into consideration various technological changes, which are affecting the library and information services. “Greater emphasis should be placed on topics in computing and web content management and development,” he shares. Dr Jose, a Master of Science in Library and Information Science from the Indian Statistical Institute, Bangalore, rates this postgraduate course, as well as that at the National Institute of Science Communication and Information Resources (NISCAIR), New Delhi, high on these parameters. NISCAIR also offers a fellowship (read box for details). Library professionals are increasingly opting for doctorate too, for better growth prospects. Dr. Jose did his research at Pune University, in the area of design and development of expert systems.
Growth and pay packages
A library professional is a specialist, and is treated at par with other experts. Thus, in an academic institution a head librarian is equivalent to a professor and falls into the same salary bracket. A deputy librarian is treated equivalent to associate professor. In private sector, according to BK Panda, a graduate in Library Science from Delhi University and now works as an Information Analyst with TCS in Bhubaneswar, the starting salary can even be Rs 5 lakhs per annum.
Jobs in the education sector
”The number of schools and colleges that are opening up in the country offer great opportunity to young professionals,” says Dr. Ghayas Makhdumi, University Librarian and Head, Department of Library and Information Sciences at Jamia. Makhduni has a PhD in British Medical Information System and a proposed model for India from the University of London. The Government has also launched a number of Central Universities and state universities. There’s also a plan to create a knowledge grid, which will depend upon the services of library professionals. Add to this, subject libraries that are opening up, with the increase in specialised institutes for law, hotel management, engineering, medical etc. A librarian working for a law firm may hold both library science and law degrees, while medical librarians should have a strong background in the sciences.
Corporate sector opportunities
“More and more librarians apply their information management and research skills to arenas outside of traditional libraries — for example in areas such as, database development, reference tool development, information systems, publishing, Internet coordination, marketing, web content management and design, and knowledge management,” observes Dr. Jose. Take the case of Panda. He joined TCS as information officer working in the field of knowledge management, and his job is to provide virtual information services, as part of the global help desk. A user sends a query, and information is provided within 30 minutes. “In the corporate world, companies have to store vast amounts of information and therefore have a comprehensive content management system,” says Panda. For instance, an area such as banking demands mass information management, which can be done only by professionals who have the ability to organise vast amounts of information in a systematic manner.
Professionals like Mamta Joshi - a library and knowledge management consultant since 1978 - render services to several libraries. She did her Master’s from Annamalai University and has worked with organisations like Information and Augmentation Centre, Lucknow and Tata Management and Training Centre’s management library. Today she renders her expertise to L&T’s Management Development Centre Library in Lonawala and Central Library at Powai. Her role as a consultant spans innovating, suggesting books to the library, and working on physical use of space available. But one must stay abreast of new products. “Fifty per cent of my time is spent searching for new things. If you don’t keep abreast of technology, and offer newer features, the user will get frustrated,” she says.
|Archival studies vs Library science
The world over many universities bracket the two together as Library, Archival and Information Science. But there is a world of difference, say Shradha Shankar and Snigdha Roy. Both have a PG Diploma in Archives and Record Management from the National Archives and currently work at Jamia Millia Islamia’s Premchand Archives. Currently they are both in the process of restoring the legendary writer’s original manuscripts, along with original papers of other authors like Qurratulain Hyder.
“Archives are related to original documents, as opposed to books, which are secondary sources. We have to hunt for original documents, whereas books can be ordered online,” says Shradha. Since the classification is different, so is the method of preservation, adds Snigdha. According to Shradha, the contents of the National Archives - which has unbroken records from 1747 - would easily span 30 km if laid out in a straight line.
The institution has been producing experts who have been absorbed in different setups across the country. Archival services are required at every administrative level – including district and tehsil, to maintain land and other records. Corporate houses also maintain archives, such as Tata Central Archives. The RBI has its own archive. However, according to Shradha and Snigdha, even though there are vacancies in government setups, job postings have not be announced.